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All issues would on table during PM, Li talks
Tuesday October 22, 2013 10:46 PM, Ranjana Narayan, IANS

India said Tuesday that "all issues would be on the table", including the issuance of stapled visas by China to residents of its Arunachal Pradesh state, during talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.

As the prime minister arrived in the Chinese capital on a three-day official visit, informed sources said both sides would discuss all issues, reiterating what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mentioned on arrival here that both sides have "lots of things to discuss".

Besides stapled visas, both would discuss maintaining peace and tranquillity on their over 4,000-km long boundary, the adverse trade balance and water sharing.

India has stressed that the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh is an inalienable and integral part of India, which was reiterated by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh ahead of the prime minister's two-nation tour.

"Our stand is that we will not allow someone from Arunachal Pradesh to be treated differently," said the source.

The source indicated India's unhappiness at the issuance of stapled visas, saying New Delhi had decided to "go slow" on inking a liberalised visa agreement with Beijing after two archers from Arunachal Pradesh were issued stapled visas by the Chinese embassy earlier this month.

China lays claim to the northeastern state and considers it "disputed".

The source said that India was still working on the liberalised visa agreement. "We were about to do it (agree) when the stapled visa came up.. we decided to go slow."

According to the source, China had never issued stapled visas to Indians from that state earlier and has begun the practice only since the past few years.

Both sides are also expected to sign the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, which aims to prevent face offs between their armed forces along the 4,000 km disputed border

The Indian cabinet approved the blueprint of the BDCA ahead of the prime minister's visit.

According to the source, despite the Depsang incident which saw a three-week face off between troops of the two countries in Ladakh earlier this year in the wake of intrusion by Chinese forces, the border issue is not a "hot border dispute despite the hype" accompanying it.

Forces of the two sides had not fired any shots for years.

India and China are also cooperating on terrorism and discussing Afghanistan where international troops are set to withdraw next year end.

"We both have an interest in Afghanistan, in preventing it from becoming a haven for terrorism like it used to..All have common interests in Afghanistan and all are agreed on what we want to see and what we can do together to help the situation," the source said.

China has also begun acknowledging of late that terrorism is "coming out of Pakistan", which it considers its all weather friend.

The adverse trade issue would figure in the talks. India is seeking market access to pharmaceuticals, IT among other items.

China and India are discussing setting up an industrial cluster in India and a Chinese team is scouting in India for possible sites to set up the special economic zone.

The idea would be to sell the goods produced to China or third countries, which would also help in restoring the balance of trade which is heavily skewed in China's favour.

[Photo Caption: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received by Zhai Jun, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, at Beijing International Airport.]

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